Tuesday 22 October 2013

The sight of a Black-Headed Gull knocking another off a post is a familiar one.

I don't know whether they do it purely to establish social dominance, though you do see some gulls that won't be knocked off, and always stand their ground whoever barges into them. But I think there is also an element of fun, and of course competition for a good place to perch.

Cormorants also play this game, but less often.

These large birds can't simply fly at each other as the small gulls do. They are not agile in the air, and there is a risk of injury in a collision. So the attacking Cormorant lands on the chain attached to the post and, balancing precariously, walks up it until its victim has to yield. It is a risky game: if the intended victim stood fast, the attacker would have no way of extricating himself from this position and would fall humiliatingly into the water.

Another Black-Headed Gull was enjoying a dogfight with a Carrion Crow. The larger bird did not have an advantage, and the battle went both ways. Here the gull is chasing the crow, which gave up soon afterwards and perched in a tree.

In the shallow water under the parapet of the Italian Garden, a young Great Crested Grebe was poking around in the fallen leaves, looking for small creatures hiding under them.

Nearby was a large golden koi. It had probably been discarded into the lake because it has an ugly face, and has grown to 2 ft long.

As the weather cleared, the male Little Owl came out on to his favourite branch on the chestnut tree.

He was pestered by a couple of Ring-Necked Parakeets, but they left him alone after a few indignant squawks.


  1. could you please remind me where to find the Little Owls? Yesterday I looked at all the possible Sweet Chestnuts (I thought), but didn't see anybody. Perhaps they stayed indoors.

  2. Go to the southeast corner of the leaf yard, next to the path that skirts the lake. Here there is a very old sweet chestnut tree. Look southwest from here to the next old sweet chestnut a few yards away, next to a fork in the path. Go beyond this tree a few yards to the west, and there is a third sweet chestnut tree, This is the tree where the Little Owls nested this spring. They can often be seen from the west side of the tree. But in wet, cold or windy weather they stay inside the hollow tree, which is probably why you didn't see them yesterday.

  3. thank you! I shall try again.